After reading all the old threads and the suggestions in [the hard lemonade] thread, I've come up with the recipe and detailed instructions below. I plan to follow these before too long! Hopefully some of you will find this useful. Feel free to use/distribute at will.
2 cans frozen juice concentrate (lemon, lime, orange, etc.)
1 tsp yeast nutrient
½ to 1 cup sugar
3 quarts water
Juice from 3 lemons (Optional – place zest in nylon bag) Note: NO PECTIC ENZYME – PULP IS GOOD!
Note: NO TANNIN
Yeast: Lalvin 1118 (or other Champagne)
Place ½ cup of 104°F tap water into a large glass or clear measuring cup (early AM).
Sprinkle packet of active dry yeast, Champagne variety, onto the water and cover glass with clean towel to avoid airborne contamination.
If after ~5 minutes there is still dry yeast floating on the water, stir gently.
Allow yeast to rehydrate for 20-25 minutes.
Add ¼ tsp yeast nutrient and ½ tsp sugar to another ½ cup tap water at room temp.
Add dissolved yeast nutrient and sugar to the hydrated yeast and recover. Yeast should be actively fermenting before addition of juice.
Remove frozen concentrate from freezer and place on counter to thaw (early AM).
Boil ½ of sugar in water & add to Primary.
Add room-temp concentrate to Primary.
Add lemon juice. For more zing, zest some of the lemons and place in nylon bag. Add yeast nutrient.
Add water and mix well.
Measure SG & correct for temperature. Target is ~1.060 as this will give ~7.8% PA. Add more sugar (dissolved in a minimum amount of water) to adjust. Using 1 cup sugar per gallon should give an SG of ~1.075 & 10% PA.
Place Primary in a warm place – 75-80°F.
Add ¼ cup of this mixture to the actively fermenting starter. Wait ½ hour and repeat 3 or 4 times.
When the Starter shows signs of active fermentation, pour over a spoon at the surface of the liquid in the Primary. This will keep most of the yeast on top of the primary where there is more oxygen.
Let Primary sit overnight.
Actively stir/aerate Primary the next morning.
After a few days of active fermentation, check the SG. If ~1.04, move to Secondary, top up and fit airlock. Allow to ferment to dryness (SG 0.990). This should take a few weeks. Note that the hard lemonade need not clear – this is hard lemonade, not wine.
Siphon hard lemonade off of lees into bottling bucket. Bottle now if not carbonating.
If carbonating, dissolve 20-26 grams sugar per gallon (3/4 to 1 cup corn sugar per 5 gallons) in a small amount of warm water and add to bottling bucket.
Mix well.Fill bottles.Place bottles at room temp (~72°C) for 2-3 weeks to allow for carbonation. Chill. Enjoy!
Add a slice of fresh lemon/lime to the glass.
Prepare a sugar syrup (3/4 cup sugar in minimum amount of warm water). Use this to sweeten your glass of hard lemonade to taste. (Bottling active yeast with too much sugar can lead to explosions, so this is a way to get sweet & carbonated hard lemonade.)